Driving Lessons ***
At this time in my life I am learning how to drive, figurately and literally. With the road test for my license only a few days away, I am starting to learn the rules and regulations for getting around the city in a car. The amount of seconds required to stop at a stop sign, how to park correctly, etc. And then as I get older and older, I am starting to figure out how to get through life as if I were driving. There are certain things you do, and then many things that you do not do, and if you do not have a good teacher, then there could be a few crashes along the way. "Driving Lessons" is no coming of age story that we haven't seen before. In fact, the script seems like it was written based on a whole bunch of stories from the based all spliced into one. However, you can call me a sucker, but I loved it. It ended up being sweet and charming, with a great preformance by Julie Walters which should be remembered come award season. It is by no means a landmark film, and in about a year or two it probably will not be remembered at all, but for the moment it is worth seeing on a rainy day.
"Driving Lessons" stars Ruper Grint, who plays Ron in the "Harry Potter" movies, as a normal seventeen year old boy. No magic powers here, but he probably wishes he had some. He plays Ben Marshall, who is learning how to drive from his mother, Laura, played by Laura Linney. Laura is overbearing, and she is constantly worried about the well being of her son. Some could say that she is overprotective and crazy, or they could say that she just doesn't want to lose him. Ben's mother takes in homeless and needy people, and her latest project is Mr. Fincham. She suggests that Ben get a job to help Mr. Fincham, and Ben begins to look. He finds a promising advertisement about helping an old actress, named Evie. Ben gets the job, and begins caring for her from ten to five every day, every now and then having to go run erronds. But his real main job is to keep her company. One day Evie wants to go on a little trip to Scotland, and events happen where she ends up eating the car key to get back home. Now Ben is stuck, with no way of getting home and no way to contacting his mother. On the road he begins to learn about himself and about his relationships with others. He grows up on his trip to Scotland and back, about what is really worth valuing, and what is really worth crashing.
Julie Walters is fantasic as Evie, and her rantings and dialogues are hilarious and delivered perfectly. "Driving Lessons" should appeal to a wide range of audience, which is why I believe that much of the dialouge was cleaned up for the United States release. There were quite a few swears, but I could tell that they also dubbed over quite a few more. I guess an R for this would not suffice at all, and its better. This is something everybody should try and check out. It is a warm and funny, sweet and charming, bitter and yet wonderful. I could hear some comparisons to "Harold and Maude" just in the way that there is a relationship between a young boy and an old woman, but there is nothing similar besides that little detail. There is no hint at a romantic relationship between the two, just one where they both need each other. Evie is lonely and needs a friend, while Ben is the same. He just can't really see it yet. He navigates through life under the wing of his mother, and finds through this world that there is something better out there, and something that is not as much of a burden. Between "Driving Lessons" and "Keeping Mum," is it apparent that the British still reign supreme when it comes to comedy.